You probably never thought your Instagram account would prove to be more than a creative outlet. It’s where you post vacation photos, show off your fancy nail art, or share your love of food with your family and friends.
Lo and behold, you have quirky interests, fantastic photos, and frequent posts. These have nabbed you a following of hundreds or even thousands.
Now you’re starting to think you might actually be good at this Instagram thing. Heck, maybe you could even earn money working as an Instagram influencer. Hold your horses.
Before you get ahead of yourself, you need to understand the difference between a hobby and a job. Do you want to make money online by becoming an Instagram influencer? There are a few things you need to consider first.
Learn to Snap a Photo
Making money as an Instagram influencer begins like any paying job. You need to learn your craft. Do you have to major in photography or marketing in college? Probably not, although such background going in certainly couldn’t hurt.
You do need to know at least a little about how to compose a shot if you want to create compelling imagery. Sure, you’ve got access to a mobile phone with a great camera built-in. You also have all kinds of filters and basic editing tools. Guess what? So does everyone else.
What’s going to make you stand out from the crowd? It is your ability to tell a story with a single snapshot. Additionally, it’s your competency to connect with your audience on an emotional and compelling level.
You need to grab attention with images. These can be images that are stunningly beautiful, surprising, shocking, funny, or even grotesque. It depends on what you’re into. You have to display a personality and point of view with conviction.
In truth, you don’t necessarily have to be particularly creative. There are popular Instagram influencers that post pics of sporting events or plates of food.
Some post selfies of their daily outfits or even outfits others are wearing. Some post pictures of cats, or of their cats’ outfits.
What makes their photos different from everyone else’s? The two things that will set you apart are quality and frequency. You have to snap a good picture. Yet, additionally, you need to do it with consistency and regularity.
There is a way people mainline their social media consumption these days. It’s done by remaining relevant. It also includes maintaining influence on Instagram.
This means constantly posting photos that compel action. It could be liking, sharing, or possibly making a related purchase.
Stop Curating, Start Creating
If you want to be a social influencer, you can’t follow the pack. Instead, you have to lead it. The vast majority of people participating in social media are curators. They see stuff. They like stuff. They share stuff.
Most of them don’t post a lot of their own, original content. Though, if they do, it’s intended for private viewing by family and friends. It is not necessarily for public consumption.
It’s not enough to like every cute kitten you come across and re-post it for your followers. You need to have a point of view and express it in an original way.
You can share things you love, especially those created within your community of followers. This helps to build rapport with your audience and incentivize participation. It makes people feel good. That, in turn, reinforces the social ties that bind you together.
However, this can’t be your sole means of participation. Social influencers must contribute and drive the conversation, so to speak.
They need to provide new and relevant content for others to share. Why do people share content? This is because it gains them social currency.
When people share content with others in their social group, they’re seeking approval. They want to be seen as funny, brilliant, insightful, and so on. They want to be the first to share.
As a creator of content, it’s your job to post items worth curating. When you do this well, you can gain followers and influence people.
Influence requires followers. If nobody hears the tree fall, did it really make a sound? Let us say you want to be a social influencer.
In that case, you need to be part of the social scene in a very big way. You don’t only need followers. You need to build a community that trusts your opinion.
How can you accomplish this goal? Well, that’s the million-dollar question, in some cases literally. Your ability to generate followers is directly correlated to your capacity of making money as a social influencer.
Look at Kim Kardashian. With over 100 million followers, she’s hardly the typical Instagram user. That’s probably why she can demand a six-figure payday for a single Instagram post.
Additionally, the waist cinchers and gummy vitamins she hocks practically fly off the shelves. The return is worth the investment.
If you want to make money, you’re going to need followers. However, you don’t need to hit Kardashian levels of fame. With just a few thousand followers you could start selling your services to smaller brands.
Perhaps you’ll earn a small amount ($50-200) per post. As you earn more followers, your prices can increase. Additionally, brands will start approaching you.
Look for Compatible Sponsors
Let’s say your following grows to thousands, tens of thousands, or more. Then, you may start getting approached by companies, or their marketing firms.
They want you to promote their products to your audience as a trusted source of information. In many cases, these companies have carefully selected you. This is because you fit their niche or you attract an audience they want to target.
Can you take every paycheck that comes your way? Yes, but you might want to be a bit choosy. Keep in mind that the average social media user can be somewhat finicky.
Plus, if you have too many promotional posts, they might get annoyed. Even worse is the herd mentality of social media. If one disgruntled follower decides to call you out as a sellout, the crowd could easily turn on you.
The point is that you need to be selective. Choose to promote brands that you actually like, use, or believe in. You need to be authentic.
This will help to serve your audience and preserve your influence. Hopefully, it will deliver some return on investment for the brands that sponsor you.
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